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Bella Irvine has retired from the Lerwick Ladies Lifeboat Guild after 38 years service, since first volunteering for the Shetland Islands RNLI unit in 1982.

At a gathering at RNLI Lerwick lifeboat station to mark the occasion last Tuesday evening (4 February), members of the guild and current lifeboat crew members paid tribute to Bella’s contribution on the committee.

After her first 10 years, Bella was then treasurer for 23 years, from 1992 until 2015. Since then, she has continued to support fundraising events and activities, including volunteering in the RNLI Lerwick shop.

In recognition of her long service, Bella received a RNLI Gold Badge and Bar in 2016.

The guild raises funds for the RNLI towards the operational costs of the Lerwick lifeboat in Scotland's far nothern isles, which relies entirely on public donations.

‘She’s one in a million and will always be welcome in our shop, where she will always find the kettle on’

Throughout the year, the guild organises many events, including the popular Lifeboat Open Day in midsummer and the Lifeboat Ball later in the year. Committee members also attend country shows during the summer months to generate income and to raise the profile of the RNLI.

In 2019, the Lerwick Lifeboat Guild, including funds raised by the men’s committee, raised a total of over £44,000.

Rhoda Watt, joint chair of the Lerwick Ladies Lifeboat Guild and current treasurer, said: “Bella has been absolutely dedicated beyond measure and will be missed on our committee. She’s one in a million and will always be welcome in our shop, where she will always find the kettle on.”

Malcolm Craigie, RNLI Lerwick lifeboat operations manager, said: “The RNLI relies on dedicated fundraisers across the country to provide equipment and training for our volunteer crews, so that we’re ready to respond 24 hours a day.

“On behalf of the lifeboat crew, we’re hugely grateful to Bella for everything she has done for the Lerwick Lifeboat Guild over the last 38 years.”

Published in Scottish Waters

The volunteer crew of Oban RNLI’s lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald faced the gale-force conditions of Storm Ciara on two separate callouts yesterday (Sunday 8 February).

At 10:14am, HM Coastguard requested an immediate launch following reports of a group of divers in difficulty to the south of Oban, in Western Scotland.

Despite challenging conditions the lifeboat reached the scene quickly, but found that the divers had already been recovered from the water.

The lifeboats small inflatable XP boat was made ready to put a crew ashore to assist with casualty care. However, the Scottish Ambulance Service and coastguard rescue teams arrived at that point and were able to assist the casualties.

At this time, further reports reached the coastguard of another diver drifting to the north. The lifeboat immediately proceeded to the scene and discovered that the object was actually the dive gear of one of the divers now being treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

After the crew returned to station and as they were drying off, one of the volunteers noticed a dingy drifting across Oban Bay.

It was observed that the oars were in place on the dinghy, which prompted concern that someone may have fallen from it, so the crew relaunched into Storm Ciara to ensure that no life was at risk.

Several boats were on moorings in Oban Bay and a systematic search of these moorings began. Oban Coastguard Team, who had also just returned from the previous incident located the dinghy and were able to identify a name on it.

Fortunately this allowed them to locate the owner, who was safe and well and unaware that his dinghy had gone adrift.

Published in Scottish Waters

Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew took part in a multi-agency operation to evacuate an injured man from a local fish farm yesterday morning, Wednesday 5 February.

Following the report of a crush injury at the fish farm in the Sound of Mull, Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew launched their Severn class all-weather lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, shortly after 10am.

The crew collected two Scottish Ambulance Service personnel and a member of the local coastguard rescue team, and proceeded to the fish farm by MacLean’s Nose on the south coast of Ardnamurchan, near to Kilchoan.

Having stabilised the injured man, the lifeboat returned to Tobermory where the crew were met by other members of the local coastguard team and Police Scotland.

The casualty was transferred to a waiting ambulance before being taken to Tobermory Golf Club for a further transfer to the air ambulance, Helimed 5, which then flew the man to Glasgow for hospital treatment.

Lifeboat operations manager Dr Sam Jones said: “This was another great example of multi-agency working between the emergency services in our local community and beyond.

“We’d like to thank all those at the fish farm who gave immediate first aid on scene and all of us at the station wish the injured man a very speedy recovery.”

This was also the first shout for one of Tobermory RNLI’s newest recruits, Jenny Hampson, a project manager for the Tobermory Harbour Association.

Published in Scottish Waters

Larne RNLI’s volunteers diverted from their crew assessments on Sunday morning (2 February) to assist a person on a nine-metre motor boat which had broken down near Ballygally in Co Antrim.

Launching at around 10.15am into a calm sea, the all-weather lifeboat Dr John McSparran made its way to the casualty boat where a volunteer crew member was put aboard to assess its pilot, who was safe and well.

A tow line was then established so that the casualty boat could be towed into East Antrim Boat Club to be put onto a mooring.

Larne’s inshore lifeboat Terry met the casualty vessel in Larne Harbour, where the tow line was passed across and an alongside tow was carried out to allow the casualty to tie up on its mooring at the boat club.

Speaking following the callout, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager Allen Dorman said: “We had a good turnout from our crew today as we had been planning to do some assessments, but it was great to see how the crew reacted when the call came in.

“Everyone knew what they had to do and acted accordingly and were delighted to help the vessel's owner. I’m also pleased to say that the assessments were carried out after the call out and everyone passed.”

Larne RNLI coxswain Frank Healy added: “I was pleased to see the casualty was wearing appropriate safety equipment when we arrived and would like to remind anyone thinking of going onto the water to check that their boat is fully operational and that they have appropriate safety equipment onboard.

“If you do get into trouble at sea remember to call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Tobermory RNLI’s deputy second mechanic Tony ‘Kiwi’ Spillane has been announced as World Mince and Tatties Champion for 2020.

After the All Blacks' disappointing run in the Rugby World Cup last year, the New Zealander made his home country proud by emerging victorious in the contest at the Mishnish in Tobermory yesterday, Saturday 25 January.

‘Kiwi’ has continued in a tradition of world champions at the lifeboat station, on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland, with operations manager Dr Sam Jones winning the title in 2007 and former coxswain Phil Higson being champion in 2008 and 2011.

Competitors submit their best plate of mince and tatties to a panel of judges, with the winner being declared world champion.

But there was controversy when it emerged that coxswain David McHaffie and Dr Sam Jones had been two of the three judges, and some of the audience claimed that there had been ‘a fix’.

But Dr Jones dismissed the accusations. “Kiwi won his world title absolutely fair and square,” he said. “It was a blind tasting and none of us had any idea whose mince we were sampling.

“We’re hoping that at our next training night, Kiwi will cook up his championship dish to warm up the volunteer crew when they come back from exercise.”

Published in Scottish Waters

Two very generous cheques was presented from supporters of Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat stations in western Scotland last Friday 17 January.

Mr Rodger Harvey-Jamieson made the very generous donation of £10,000 cheque from his family to each station when he visited Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI.

Mr Alfie Edwards, representing the Applecross Boat Pull Team, also handed over to each station a cheque for £1,000. The team have been fundraising for local charities and the RNLI for several years.

Thanking Mr Harvey-Jamieson and Mr Edwards were Portree coxswain Hamish Corrigall and operations manager John Ellis, as well as Emma Noble and Daniel Elliot representing Kyle station.

Published in Scottish Waters

A cardiac defibrillator has been installed outside Lerwick RNLI’s lifeboat station, to provide essential lifesaving treatment to anyone suffering from a heart attack.

The defibrillator is fitted in a highly visible protective cabinet outside the station door next to the small boat harbour, which is a popular spot for locals and visitors in Scotland’s Shetland Islands throughout the year.

Accessible 24 hours a day, providing an emergency asset for the area, the automated external defibrillator (AED) can monitor the heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to the heart, which is the most effective treatment for a heart attack.

AEDs can be used by anyone, without the need for any specialist training, as any rescuer will be guided through what to do by the voice commands and display panel.

The defibrillator has been part-funded by a grant from the British Heart Foundation, and a local crowdfunding effort raised the extra money required to purchase the equipment and stainless-steel cabinet necessary to house it.

Lerwick lifeboat crew are particularly thankful to one anonymous donor who gave £900 to the appeal.

Scottish charity Lucky2BHere, which has helped to provide many defibrillators in Shetland, has also provided AED training to the lifeboat crew.

It is thought that next nearest public access defibrillator is around 400 metres away, outside the Stewart Building, while the nearby Lerwick Boating Club has a defibrillator located in their premises.

Darren Harcus, coxswain of RNLI Lerwick, said: “Installing this defibrillator fits well with our function as the charity which saves lives at sea. This will be an important lifesaving asset for the Lerwick waterfront, partly paid for by the local community.

“We’d like to thank all those who have made donations for this defibrillator, the British Heart Foundation who have provided grant funding, Lucky2BHere who have provided support, and our RNLI Estates Team who have dealt with the necessary paperwork to install and provide electrical power to the defibrillator on the building.”

Published in Scottish Waters

Country music stars Robert Mizzell and Kieran McAree are set to perform at the annual Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Dance next Friday 31 January.

The dance, held this year at the Allingham Arms Hotel in Bundoran, is the flagship fundraising event of the volunteer crew and has been a staple of the annual event calendar for more than 40 years.

Award-winning country music singer Robert Mizzell, originally from Louisiana and now based in Ireland, will perform on the night and is looking forward to playing the event.

“Since I’ve moved to Ireland I’ve become very aware of the amazing work the volunteers of the RNLI do so selflessly,” he said. “It is my great pleasure to be invited back to play at their annual dance this year. I look forward to seeing many of the supporters of this great charity on the night.”

Event director Cormac McGurren is reminding supporters that not only is it a great night of music, but there are some great prizes in the monster raffle, too.

“Local businesses have once again been so generous in donating prizes for us for the raffle and we would like to thank traders in Bundoran and Ballyshannon for their great support. A special thanks to Mr Oilman who is donating €250 worth of oil for our door prize on the night, too.”

The dance will take place on Friday 31st January with Kieran McAree on stage from 9pm and Robert Mizzell on stage from 11pm.

Proceeds from the dance will fund ongoing training of the volunteer crew based at Bundoran Lifeboat Station, who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, serving the entire Donegal Bay area for marine emergencies.

Tickets are just €15 and are on sale now from all crew members, the Allingham Arms, Bundoran Tourist Office, BMG Hardware Bundoran, O’Neill’s Next Door Off Licence Ballyshannon and on the door on the night.

More information on the lifeboat service in Bundoran can be found on the station’s Facebook page.

robert mizzell and kieran mcaree to play annual bundoran lifeboat dance2

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Larne RNLI launched at 3.50pm on Saturday (18 January) to assist a RIB which had lost engine power half a mile south of Muck Island.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to the nine-metre RIB with three people on board which had been losing engine power.

The all-weather lifeboat, Dr John McSparran, launched into a slight swell with light levels decreasing as the night closed in.

The lifeboat reached the anchored casualty boat and a volunteer crew member was put on board to establish a tow rope so that the lifeboat could bring the casualty boat into Carrickfergus Harbour.

One of the casualties from the boat was transferred to the lifeboat for some respite from the cold conditions of the open water.

Upon reaching Carrickfergus, the casualty boat was handed into the care of the Portmuck Coastguard team.

Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager Allan Dorman said: “The casualty boat did the right thing by dropping their anchor and calling for help at the earliest opportunity.

“Being able to find the boat in daylight made it much easier for our volunteer crew to establish the tow and bring them into the safety of Carrickfergus Harbour.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Five years into his remarkable and challenging project to photograph all RNLI lifeboat station in the UK and Ireland with a Victorian-era camera, Jack Lowe has visited 147 stations and met more than 2,000 volunteers.

And it’s not over yet, as the West of Ireland and Scotland’s Western Isles are among those locations yet to be covered by The Lifeboat Station Project between now and the end of 2022.

They will add to the more than 35,000 miles he’s already covered with his trusty converted ambulance, ‘Neena’, which also serves as his mobile darkroom for the 19th-century wet plate collodion process he used to produce his distinct, monochrome images.

Last September, Lowe toured Northern Ireland to complete that 10-station leg of his mammoth undertaking.

Neena, the converted ambulance Jack Lowe uses as a mobile darkroom (Photo: RNLI)Neena, the converted ambulance Jack Lowe uses as a mobile darkroom | Photo: RNLI

That came almost a year after he reached the half-way mark in his project, shortly following his 100th station visit at Valentia — and at a time of self-doubt, before crowdfunding support provided the boost needed to see the rest of the task through.

At the same time, he’s expanded the scope of the project — including images of station mechanics and other key volunteers, as well as making sound recordings that go ‘behind the scenes’.

“Ultimately, I’m honoured beyond words to be making this archive,” Lowe says. “It’s a privilege spending time with so many lifeboat volunteers, preserving their bravery and devotion for future generations.”

The Lifeboat Station Project’s dedicated website has links to Lowe’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as his Patreon campaign.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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